The message was seemingly clear. If we would only swap Mr. Clean for Seventh Generation, switch from old light bulbs to compact fluorescents, and start schlepping our organic groceries in reusable bags, we could reverse the damage we’ve caused the Earth and heal our ailing planet. But according to sustainability expert Kendra Pierre-Louis, our commitment to shopping “green” is only a small first step toward righting our environmental wrongs. In her eye-opening new book Green Washed: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet, the New York-based environmentalist thoroughly examines the rise of organic food, green housing and clothing, solar power, and the hybrid car before persuasively concluding that the true path to helping the Earth is not buying “green” but buying much, much less. Pointing to America’s growth economy as the main culprit behind our unchecked consumption, Pierre-Louis ultimately advocates for adopting an alternative system that doesn’t pit “our short-term well-being against our long term survival.” In honor of Earth Day, we recently spoke to Ms. Pierre-Louis via email about nature in New York City, the “IKEA effect,” alternative economies, the importance of community engagement, and how she plans to celebrate today.